With the state of Louisiana struggling to close its ballooning budget deficit, Gov. John Bel Edwards revealed Thursday night that LSU's football program could be in jeopardy.
According to Julia O'Donoghue of the Times-Picayune, Edwards cautioned Louisiana residents that LSU football is one of many institutions that could suffer if his proposed tax increases aren't passed: "Student athletes across the state would be ineligible to play next semester. I don't say this to scare you. But I am going to be honest with you."
Treasurer John Kennedy countered Edwards' argument by suggesting that passing the tax increases would further cripple Louisiana, per O'Donoghue: "Gov. Edwards is proposing to implement the largest tax increase in the history of Louisiana. It will wreck our economy, already fragile."
While the state of Louisiana may be stuck in a financial crisis, that certainly hasn't been the case for LSU football in recent years.
As Ross Dellenger of the Advocate pointed out, the program was extremely profitable in 2015:
Ross Dellenger @RossDellenger
Friendly reminder: #LSU football turned a profit of $57 million last year, and TAF gave LSU athletics $14M. https://t.co/7WK3AL0K742016-2-12 00:43:43
Despite that, Edwards made it very clear that even the most beloved and financially stable entities in the state could be hanging in the balance.
These budgetary concerns represent an unwanted distraction for a Tigers team that is looking to vie for an SEC title and College Football Playoff berth after going 9-3 last season.
The Tigers have won at least eight games every year since 1999, including two national titles during that span.
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LSU may have a chance to add to that haul in 2016 with superstar running back Leonard Fournette back in the fold, but Edwards suggests the program taking the field is far from guaranteed.
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